The Student Government Association (SGA) Senate unanimously approved the Hopkins Wading Team’s application for official recognition on Tuesday.
SGA recognition grants the Wading Team access to an expanded pool of resources, including the right to apply for funding from the University.
Sophomore Nicholas Mehrle, the team’s “merchant” (a post that will be synonymous with “treasurer”), explained the sport of wading and its rules of competition.
“A wading team competition involves seven players: six waders and a referee,” Mehrle said. “You sit in the pool until you’ve become ‘adequately pruney’; that’s the official term stipulated by the International Wading Team Association.”
“Then there’s also the ‘take down’, which is one of the main events. After you’re done wading, you have to empty the pool, deflate it and roll it up.”
When asked if completing all these stages faster than an opposing team constituted a competitive victory, Mehrle’s response was wholeheartedly in the affirmative.
“Yeah, sure,” Mehrle said.
Despite a remarkably formal code of rules, the Wading Team was born in a casual and jovial setting.
Mehrle recounted the moment of inspiration behind the team’s first wade in the spring of his freshman year.
“We thought it’d be a really funny idea to put a pool on The Beach and just go for a swim in that,” Mehrle said.
The team received a lot of attention from fellow beach-goers during their first wade, but the event was not necessarily interpreted by amused observers in a way that the team intended.
“A lot of people thought we were rushing a frat, which we didn’t like,” Mehrle said.
The Wading Team was disheartened that onlookers thought they had been forced to be ridiculous, when in reality their decision to wade that day sprung from their self-definition as ridiculous people.
Upon being asked if they were affiliated with any organization, the Wading Team began to consider the idea of actually forming an official club. After studying the relevant process, they decided to turn that idea into a reality.
Although the team simply wants to build school spirit and have a good time, Sophomore Travis Schmauss, the team’s captain, and Mehrle looked back at the response to their first wade and noted how the team can offer a unique opportunity for serious Hopkins students to get their minds off of work.
“We want to be an outlet for that kind of fun,” Schmauss said, referring to the team’s irreverent nature.
Already, prior to the Senate’s meeting on Tuesday, the Wading Team was confident that their potential for building school spirit would secure them SGA recognition.
Optimism about the wading team was, and continues to be, quite prominent within the SGA itself. Sophomore Amy Sun, a senator for her class and member of the Senate’s Student Services Committee, explained how she fancied the team’s chances.
“I think they definitely have a great chance of becoming an official club on campus,” Sun said three days ahead of the Senate’s meeting on Tuesday.
SGA recognition has opened the door for the Wading Team to pursue its ambitions for the future. Chief among these is to simply involve more Hopkins students in the club.
“We’ll be able to make announcements now. We can hold events, we can fundraise with the Hopkins logo. There are so many advantages to actually having our name out there,” Schmauss said.
Other long term plans from the team include the possibility of stimulating an interest in wading at other universities. Mehrle brought up the importance of their rivalry with the Harvard Wading Team, colloquially known as the “Sea Urchins.”
“On our Facebook page, we made up, I mean, we spoke about the Harvard Sea Urchins,” Mehrle said.
Another ambition is to make the sport of wading possible even in winter through the use of a heating apparatus. Travis highlighted the efficacy of the heaters the team has in mind.
“It’d be like having Jacuzzi water,” Schmuass said.
In addition to the resources now available to it, the Wading Team expressed that it will also need funding to achieve its goals. When discussing their prospects of securing funding from Hopkins, Sun expressed optimism.
“I think the JHU Wading Team could be successful if their requested funding goes toward new initiatives that aim to make the university better,” Sun wrote in an e-mail to The News-Letter.
Confidence in the Wading Team’s prospects of securing financial support from the University is not limited to the SGA, however. Robert Turning, the director of student activities, was also supportive.
“If the club is open to, or provides programming for, all students, I don’t see why they shouldn’t receive funding from the Student Activities Commission (SAC),” Turning wrote in an e-mail to The News-Letter.
However, despite the optimism from both Turning and SGA, the Wading Team and the SAC have different ideas about the precise details of the team’s future finances.
Both Turning and Sun focused on the team’s prospects of getting SAC funding at the beginning of the next academic year, but the waders expressed hopes of obtaining some funds sooner.
There was also a discrepancy between the total amounts of SAC financial support both groups felt the team should get.
“I’ll also assume necessary funding would probably be quite minimal. Inflatable pools seem to be the only expense,” Turning wrote in an e-mail to The News-Letter.
Schmauss and Mehrle had a slightly different idea.
“Our minimum would be the tankless water heaters and that’s a couple of hundred dollars,” Schmauss said.
The Wading Team is considering alternative sources of funding, which they feel may help overcome some of the limitations they would face working solely with the SAC. The Hopkins Office of Alumni Relations is the main alternative source of funding they are considering.
“We’re pretty sure it doesn’t require us to be established for a while. I think that could go into effect next semester,” Mehrle said.
The waders are by no means shy about securing financial support.
“We’re going to apply for all of it. The SGA seems to like us. They like us because they see the potential for this to act as a school spirit rallying point,” Schmauss said.